Even though it is no longer Black History Month, some stories are worth telling year-round. The story of boxing ring announcer Henry “Discombobulating” Jones is one of them.
Jones is also a motivational speaker, a D.C. Public Schools social worker and author of an autobiography titled “It’s More Than A Notion!” Currently he is competing to be the headliner ring announcer for fight cards at the new MGM Grand at National Harbor.
The March 11 fight card that Jones hopes to announce is the first at the MGM Grand and will include a World Boxing Council featherweight title fight between champion Gary Russell Jr. (from Capitol Heights) and Oscar Escandon, as well as a WBC junior middleweight title fight between champion Jerwell Charlo and Charles Hatley.
The April 8 fight card that Jones is in the running to announce includes a World Boxing Association featherweight/ super featherweight unification fight between champion Vasyl Lomachenko and champion Jason Sosa. The region’s own Mike Reed (of Waldorf) and Patrick Harris will have fights on the non-televised undercards.
During February, Jones has engaged in many activities outside of ring announcing, including the mentorship of a group of adults in a jobs program at Wider Circle charities of Silver Spring and being the star guest of the MCM Media television show “The Ailisha Vaughn Show” to discuss his work in ring announcing.
Jones has been in the ring announcing business for close to 30 years and is the most famous ring announcer in the region.
In his free time, Jones does many speaking engagements.
“I have both a passion and purpose to speak with youth, especially young males who are without fathers in their life. I try to be that positive role model to many,” said Jones.
During Black History Month, we normally hear of men and women who have made it to the pinnacle of their sport — Jackie Robinson in baseball, Wilma Rudolph in track and field, Arthur Ashe in tennis.
When one thinks of the all-time greatest African-American boxers, there is a long and storied history, from Jack Johnson in the 1910s to Maryland’s very own boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard and, of course, the legendary Muhammad Ali.
But, when one thinks of African-American boxing announcers, one is left speechless. This is where Henry “Discombobulating” Jones, a self-described “young 61- year-old,” should come into the discussion as a leader and pioneer among ring announcers.
“Being a pioneer is no easy task and brings many challenges: envy and in my case, both covert and overt racial animosity. Ironically enough, the person who has helped me most is one of the two iconic ring announcers, Michael Buffer of ‘Let’s get ready to rumble’ fame. He took me under his tutelage back in 1990 and allowed me to announce non-televised undercards up and down the East Coast. On high-profile HBO shows and in the most famous of venues, Madison Square Garden, Atlantic City, Radio City Music Hall, Trump Taj Mahal. He also wrote the foreword to my book,” said Jones.
But Jones’ story is even more inspiring. As a kid, he was not much of an athlete, and his exclusion from sports, especially football, had him searching for creative outlets.
Day in and day out was spent in a world of comic books, from Spider-Man to Daredevil to The Sub-Mariner. As he grew older, he searched for his passion. Then he found himself drawn to ring announcing.
As he learned the ins and outs of announcing, all the dialogue and one-liners from the comic books of his youth found their way into his trade.
“Reading all those comic books gave me a sense of invincibility and power that I could achieve anything in life. Little did I know it was also preparing me to be well spoken, well written and a wordsmith. My ring intros have been described as the most creative ever heard,” Jones said.
Over time he became the top announcer in the region.
Yet, maybe even more importantly, he is the only African-American ring announcer that anyone knows, and most people are unaware of him because he does not get televised opportunities when the networks come to D.C. He is the Jack Johnson of ring announcers.
Jones should fit that bill — he has the sheer firepower, the resume and story to catapult himself next to Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon Jr. So, the question is when the networks will allow ‘Discombobulating’ Jones to announce on air in his own home turf.